Science

Georgia Blood Supplier To Start Testing Donors For Zika

Donors give blood at a record attempt for blood donations in Rutland, Vt., Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2011. Organizers of Vermont's Gift of Life blood drive marathon are hoping almost 2,000 people show up in Rutland to set a nationwide, single-day blood drive record.To set the record, 1,969 pints of blood will have to be collected. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)
Donors give blood at a record attempt for blood donations in Rutland, Vt., Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2011. Organizers of Vermont's Gift of Life blood drive marathon are hoping almost 2,000 people show up in Rutland to set a nationwide, single-day blood drive record.To set the record, 1,969 pints of blood will have to be collected. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)
Credit Toby Talbot / Associated Press
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Some Georgia blood banks will begin testing donors for the Zika virus.

It comes as officials in Florida investigate several cases of the virus, which are believed to be the first transmitted by mosquitos on the U.S. mainland.  

Jill Evans, vice president of blood supplier LifeSouth, said they’re testing at their three Georgia locations, starting Tuesday, as an extra precaution.

“The blood donors who come to us are healthy,” said Evans, “but they may have Zika virus, because 80 percent of the people who contract Zika are asymptomatic.”

Donors are tested for Zika at the same time they’re tested for other infectious diseases, Evans said, and the tests don’t delay the blood collection process. She added, though, that the tests do require an extra blood sample and consent from the donor.

Lifesouth has been testing for the virus at its locations in Florida since last week. It is expanding testing to Georgia as well as Alabama.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration currently requires only blood centers in two Florida counties to test for the virus.